The Brit Pack – my Favourite Black British Beauty and Fashion Bloggers!

Which Black British beauty and fashion bloggers are on my hot list?

I took inspiration from my recent post that showcased the leading Black beauty bloggers from the US and thought that I would start a Pinterest board to collate my fav Black British bloggers – we to are doing some fabulous things right here in the UK!

I have really gotten into Pinterest – it is such an easy way to document your thoughts, ideas and aspirations to create a visual feast that is a reflection of the very essence of who you are!  What fun it will be to look back at your boards in 1, 5 or 10 years time!  It will be a montage of your evolution as a person and a snapshot of the history of your presence here on this earth!  If you are not on  Pinterest request an invite!  If you are on Pinterest follow me!

So which bloggers am I loving right now??  Check out my board to find out!

Who should join the list? Do let me know who your favorite Black British beauty and fashion bloggers are too!

If you are on Pinterest, happy pinning! Leave your Pinterest address in the comment box below and I will be sure to follow!

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Product Review: Teint Idole Ultra 24H by Lancôme

A few posts ago I was enthusing about the newest foundation launches with shades for dark skin!

I will reviewing some of these new offerings over the course of the next few weeks, letting you know my thoughts based upon 3 criteria:

  • Colour Match – is it detectable?
  • Coverage and Wear – how does it perform during the day?
  • Marketing Support –   many woman of colour bemoan the fact that they are        underrepresented in the marketing and advertising of beauty products, and as a result conclude that these products are ‘not for them’.   I will assess the marketing support for each product to see how well each brand represents the markets that they are targeting.

I am a loyal MAC Studio Fix user and I have been wearing shade NW45 for years.  It  is a good match for me…just so you know what I am benchmarking the trial foundations against.

First up…

…Teint Idole Utra 24H by Lancôme

As I mentioned in my previous post, Skin Deep, Lancôme offered customers a 7 day trial of their newest  foundation.  From the adverts in the press I suspected that I would be shade 13 (Sienne)…and what do you know…I was right!

Lancôme describes the foundation as “an exceptional longwear formula featuring a unique heart-shaped flexible polymer for comfort…. in 18 shades to suit all skin tones from very pale to very dark.”

Interestingly, it was back in 2005 that Lancôme identified a need to extend its foundation colour palette.  Employees of the USA laboratories noticed they were not all able to find the right shade among those available on the market.  Too red, not dark enough, overly ash, not vibrant enough, too orangey…

Thus L’Oreal  (the parent company Lancôme belongs to) created what was dubbed the “Women of Color” association, and  these women decided to blend a shade range perfectly tailored to their specific needs with shades for every skin tone.

Lancôme soon committed to support “Women of Color” with the launch of an international study.  Using colorimetric measurements, 15,000 complexion colour points were observed on around 1,000 women. This international study gave rise to the shades unveiled in the Teint Idole Ultra 24H  range!

The new shades suitable for a darker skin tone include:

Shades 10 (Praline), 11 (Muscade), 12 (Ambre), 13 (Sienne), 14 (Brownie) range from sandy to more intense tones and these shades been developed for every mixed-race, South-American, Afro-American, Indian-American, Antillean or North-African complexion.  Shade 15 (Acajou), the darkest shade is designed for ebony-toned skin.

So that was the science…but what do I think??

Colour Match

Although Lancôme professes to have a shade for all, with only 6 shades for women with a darker skin tone,  I am not 100% convinced.

Sienne is a rich toffee colour with deep yellow undertones.

It did blend well to match my skin tone…however upon application to my face (with my fabulous BECCA foundation brush), it was slightly to dark…but I know that shade 12 would be to light, so unfortunately it was a mismatch for me.

Colour Match Score: 6/10

Coverage and Wear

The foundation provided a medium coverage, and was easy to apply.  If you do have any imperfections that require extra coverage (as I do!) you may need to use a concealer too.  The foundation has a subtle floral fragrance, which was surprising – but it was pleasant to inhale the fragrance as I applied the makeup.

It dries to give a velvety matte finish.  My skin tends to get shiny throughout the day, thus I was concerned that the liquid formulation would begin to slide, but I found that it wore well although I did need a little powder to take down the shine.  All in all I was very impressed!

Coverage and Wear score: 8/10

Marketing Support

Lancôme has backed the launch of  Teint Idole 24H with a heavyweight campaign which has been highly visible in store, outdoor, online and in the press.

 

Lancôme’s global HQ has done a fantastic job in communicating that this range is indeed for all women…and I was commenting to a friend just last week (yes…I am always talking about beauty!!), that I believe that this is the first major Lancôme campaign that DOES NOT feature a Caucasian woman!!  It is fronted by Tunisian beauty, Hanaa Ben Abdesslem and the stunning Arenis Sosa.

A fabulous campaign!

Marketing Support score: 10/10

So there you have it!  All in all, if you can find your colour match, I would highly recommend this foundation!


Book Review: Branded Beauty – How Marketing Changed The Way We Look

There is something that I adore just as much as my beloved beauty industry and that is reading!  I love disappearing into the pages (or sometimes the auditory world) of a tantalising, engrossing book!

I am a bit of a geek to be honest (albeit a very glamorous one, if I say so myself!!), and I think you can see  form the nature of my blog posts that I like to thoroughly investigate my themes and offer an informative view on the world of  beauty.  As a beauty insider, I am not only passionate about the amazing products that are launched, but also about the business of  beauty  itself –  I am enthralled by the innovation and creativity that is exhibited and I also love watching videos such as this too (I told you I was a geek)!!

As I mentioned in a previous post the global beauty industry is worth billions of (US) dollars and here in the UK, a recent market research report produced by Euromoniter, stated that the beauty industry was the most resilient (non-food) sector within retail during the tumultuous years following the economic implosion of 2008 .  As a nation, looking good is very, very important to us!

So how excited was I when I saw this book featured in an issue Stylist Magazine late last year….

….. a book  combining  both of my passions – beauty and the business of beauty!

The book is authored by Mark Tungate, a British journalist who currently resides in Paris.  His credentials include authoring several books on fashion and luxury marketing , writing for broadsheet newspapers such as The Times and the The Independent and he also teaches courses on branding and advertising at the Parsons Paris School Art and Design.

The Synopsis

In “Branded Beauty” Tungate delves into the history and evolution of the beauty business.  From luxury boutiques in Paris to tattoo parlours in Brooklyn, he talks to the people who’ve made skin their trade. He analyses the marketing strategies used by those who create and sell beauty products. He visits the labs where researchers seek the key to eternal youth. He compares attitudes to beauty around the world and examines the rise of organic beauty products.

As it was published in 2011, it is bang up to date – and covers the changing marketing communication channels – with the rise of social media and the increasing influence the  beauty blogger  posses – and the effect this is having on the industry.

The book is written in a pithy style,  that is very accessible and not  loaded with technical jargon.  I really enjoyed charting the journey of the development of the beauty industry and was fascinated by the fact that many of the strategies that were devised all those years ago  (such as ‘Gift with Purchase’ ) are still the mainstay of the industry today.

I also enjoyed reading about the impeccable women that have shaped this global industry – Lauder,  Arden, Rubenstein…to name a few.   Their emphatic belief  in the utility of their products and the sheer determination and drive they deployed to ensure that their vision came  to pass was truly inspirational.  It is often said that the beauty industry is frivolous and sells nothing but ’empty promises and hope in a jar’ – but ‘hope’ does not forge multi-billion dollar businesses – tenacity, perseverance and passion do.  Tungate quotes the late Estee Lauder who said of her enterprise;

“I didn’t get [here] by wishing or hoping for it, but by working for it”

Tungate’s investigation is candid and balanced and he does not aim to sugar coat aspects of the industry that can  be  somewhat disconcerting.  I very much appreciated this, as I am a big believer in giving people the information for them to make an informed decision about how they feel about a subject or topic.  He covers darker issues that surround the industry such the airbrushing of advertising,  the  impact of the  ‘ anti aging’ phenomenon and the spectacular rise of  cosmetic surgery- and the reasons why this is the case –  however unlike other books about the industry, it does not focus solely on these ‘perils’  and does not damn the whole industry as a sardonic, money making, evil.

The book does have a very European/Caucasian bias though – only 8  of the 277 pages in the book talks about the diversity of  the global beauty industry and only 2 pages specifically mentions the beauty of  Black women.

How did the beauty industry develop outside of  Europe and  North America?  What was happening in Asia Pacific, Australia and indeed Africa?  As Tungate states in his book that only 3%  of the people on the earth can be classified as Caucasian, it would have been interesting to have discover more about these women and the entrepreneurs that has served them.

Where is my story?*

Despite this, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to beauty enthusiasts, marketing students and professionals and aspiring  business leaders alike!

Buy ‘Branded Beauty’ on Amazon or Waterstones (saving up to £3.80 on the cover price)!

* Image: ‘African Beauty’ by Artbeat


British Beauty – Going for Gold

Olympic fever is certainly hotting up!

As mentioned in my previous blog  I am really excited about the year ahead – and the impending Olympic Games is a major reason for this!

I was selected to be an official Games Maker in December last year, which absolutely made my day!!  I truly believe that the Games will have a lasting legacy on London and on the nation and I am humbled to have been given a chance to be involved.

My first training session is in February….will let you know how it goes!!

*******

In November last year the global FMCG company Proctor and Gamble (P&G), owners of  brands such as Olay, Pantene, Ariel, Pampers,  Max Factor and Gillette, announced that it will be supporting 11  British athletes leading up to and during the London 2012 Games and these athletes will act as ambassadors  for the company.

P&G's Olympic Ambassadors

The selection includes the incredibly talented female athletes Jeanette Kwakye, Keri-Anne Payne, Victoria Pendleton, Paula Radcliffe, Jessica Ennis  and Jenna Randall.

Yesterday, Pantene, Olay and Max Factor announced partnerships with cyclist Victoria Pendleton, pentathlon champion Jessica Ennis and swimmer Keri-Anne Payne respectively.

Victoria Pendleton, Keri-Anne Payne and Jessica Ennis MBE

All 3 athletes are worthy role models and are indeed beautiful women.  I was particularly thrilled to see that Jessica Ennis (MBE) will be the face of Olay.

Ennis is of a mixed heritage background, the offspring of a Jamaican father and English mother.  In a week where race relations in Britain is again front page news – with the conviction and sentencing of  two of the murderers of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence dominating the headlines-  I hope that Ennis’ partnership with Olay will serve to remind the nation that unity and cohesion can be and is a hallmark of our society and that we should not let the negative incidences overshadow this important fact.

However….I do have to admit that I was a little disappointed to see that 100m sprinter Jeanette Kwyake  was not a part of the beauty ambassador group – after all Black women wash their hair, moisturise their skin and wear mascara too!

Jeanette Kwakye - Going for Gold

In fact, according to the market research agency Mintel,  British women of ethnic origin spend up to 7 times more on cosmetics and toiletries that her Caucasian counterpart.  A report published by the agency in 2009, stated that the market for Black or Asian beauty products in the UK remains a niche one, valued at £70m, or just 2% of the total market for women’s haircare, skincare and makeup, well below their percentage of the population. This is blamed partly on the fact that there is a “lack of commitment by mainstream companies to ethnic beauty needs”.

The report also identified that a lack of advertising spend and use of models that represent this market was a source of frustration for women of colour .  In my eyes P&G missed a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that it is in touch with the needs of its consumers and to lead the way in showcasing the beauty of the multicultural Britain that we all reside in.

What are your thoughts?  Let me know!


I think you had BECCA!

Hi Guys!!

Just 6 days until Christmas!! How are you tackling the mission that is the big ‘Christmas Shop’ ?

Well, if you are looking for inspiration, I would highly recommend a gift from the Australian make up brand BECCA!

The lovely ladies at the BECCA London office invited me to an exclusive industry event last week, which was hosted at the newly renovated boutique, located on Pelham Street in the heart of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea!

As I had mentioned in a previous blog post, I had learned about the BECCA brand when it was sold in Space NK – but this was the first time that I visited the stand alone boutique.

The interior is a blend of the sumptuous textures of descendant chocolate velvet and sparkling mirrored panelling and lighting which creates a  chic interior that is both welcoming and luxurious.

The All New BECCA Flagship Boutique (image: becca.com)

If you have to buy a present for a cosmetic obsessed friend or family member – you really can not go wrong with a choice from BECCA, as the brand has a range suitable for ALL skin tones, plus many other services that I for one would be extremely happy to find under my tree.

Game, Set,  MATCH

Stick Foundation - Almond

It was so much fun to further explore the product range.  The foundation range is fabulous – as a black woman,  I know that finding a shade that suits not only my complexion, but works well with my skin type (which is slightly on the oily side – a common feature of dark skin) can often prove to be a challenge.  I did find my match – the Stick Foundation (£30) in Almond.  It literally disappeared upon application…perfection!  I also really liked the Shimmering Skin Perfector (£33) in Topaz – fantastic for creating a dewy finish – perfect for the party season!  The water-based moisturiser has a SPF of 20+ and light-diffusing particles of shimmer that creates instant radiance and vitality.

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Shimmering Skin Perfector - Topaz

Make – Up MaestroBECCA is loved by the professional MUA – and you too can gain the skills to enhance your beauty by attending the Introduction to Make-Up Application 2  day course at the BECCA Make-Up Academy.   Perfect for the fashion aware, professionals who need to maintain a polished appearance at all times, or the busy mother who wants to enhance her personal makeup routine. Taught by a BECCA International Makeup Artist, the course focuses on skincare, makeup preparation and brush use.  During the course, attendees will also receive an exclusive 30% discount on all product purchases!!

Introduction to Make-Up Application – £480

I really enjoyed the event and will be definaitly following the brand in the New year – not only did it celebrate it’s 10th birthday this year, it was also featured as the runner up in the inaugural category for the ‘Best New Product for Darker Skin’ in the 2011 Grazia Beauty Awards – as voted for by…US!

Who’s going to argue with that?

Winning ways for BECCA


Queen of the Knight

This time last week I woke up still BUZZING from a fantastic night I had had the previous evening, at the famous Royal Albert Hall – where I  joined thousands of soul lovers for the London leg of  Beverley Knight’s (MBE)  Soul UK Tour, which correlates with the launch of her latest album of the same name.

Often dubbed the ‘Queen of UK Soul’ – I was really  not prepared for the outstanding level of pure, unadulterated talent that this beautiful woman possesses – she can really sing – like REALLY sing!  Her vocal range is magnificent and her pitch impeccable.  She truly deserves her title and she reigns supreme.

Born in Wolverhampton in 1973, to a Jamaican family, with Gospel music and Sam Cooke filling her home, Beverley burst onto the music scene in 1995 with her club classic debut, ” Flavour of the Old School”.

With over 17 years  worth of hits and 8 albums to date – Beverley and her incredible band took the audience on an explosive, melodic retrospective of British Soul –  which in her words does not “get the recognition it deserves”.   As well as performing some of her best known tracks such as ” Shoulda Coulda Woulda” and “Greatest Day“, she paid homage to some of the greats of  British Soul such as Soul II Soul and The Young Disciples (they wrote and sang ‘Apparently Nothing’ (…nothing apparently…you know that one,  don’t you!).

She also looked AMAZING!!  Numerous costume changes kept us entertained and enthralled – and she exuded the confidence of someone who is 100% at ease with her (enviably toned) body, which was really great to see!

"You looking at me"?? Like - YEAH - you look FANTASTIC!

In a recent interview in the autumn edition of  Blackhair magazine , Knight divulged that she worked hard to maintain her figure by working out and eating in moderation – no Diva-style cabbage diets here – just a good old common sense approach.

The same interview also discussed Beverley’s make-up brand ‘K’.  I can remember the buzz about the launch of her brand!!  Exclusive to the beauty mecca that is Selfridges – I was over the moon  to see a British brand being launched to meet the needs of  British women of colour.  Unfortunately the line met its demise earlier this year.

Knight states that “… [with] ventures that involve anything to do with black skin or beauty…there seems to be an issue either with marketing or distribution.  Like many others I came up against the same problem”.

The company that was behind the distribution of the brand was Jigsaw Esl.  A PR friend of mine recently regaled her experience with the the company.  She was not impressed with the communications team at Jigsaw Esl, stating her frustration at what seemed a lack of dedication to the brand.   She stated that she contacted the organisation on several occasions,  asking  for the official press release – but was pushed from pillar to post and received  nothing  in the end.  It seemed, to her at least, that Beverley’s brand was NOT on the top of their agenda in the slightest….

But it’s is not all doom and gloom, Beverley promised Blackhair magazine that the range would be back in 2012!!  I will be keeping my eye out for the re-launch and I wish Beverley all the success in the world!

Whilst you are waiting, you can buy UK Soul, by Beverley Knight here.

Out Now!


Celebrate Good Times!

I can’t believe that October is nearly coming to an end… time is certainly flying.

I couldn’t let the month end without writing a post in celebration of Black History Month – which is in October here on the British Isles!

There are so many inspirational people of colour that I could mention – the free newspaper ‘The Metro’,  compiled a very comprehensive list as part of a nationwide poll, however I would like to celebrate some of the men and women who have contributed to the global hair and beauty industry – providing jobs and careers for thousands, enriching the lives of millions of women (and men) and making the founders of the following companies very rich indeed!!

The hair and beauty industry catering to the needs of black men and women is a flourishing sector.  The US black haircare market is worth $185 million, up 4% versus the 2010 sales value,  according to a recent Mintel report,  and although a primarily Caucasian standard of beauty dominated the popular press and the department store counters for much of the last century – the black hair and beauty industry is not a recent phenomenon….

Madam Walker in a photograph ca. 1914 by Addison Scurlock

….Madam C.J. Walker (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919), born Sarah Breedlove, was an African-American businesswoman, hair care entrepreneur and philanthropist who made her fortune by developing and marketing a hugely successful line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded in 1910 the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company.  She is also credited for developing the ‘hot comb’ (the forerunner of your GHDs!). According to the Guinness Book of Records, Madame Walker was the first woman to become a millionaire by her own achievements.

Other Americans who have transformed the tresses of black women worldwide include:

Drs. Joe and Eunice Dudley – Dudley Beauty Corp

Eunice Dudley

Joe Dudley Snr.

Drs. Joe and Eunice Dudley probably didn’t have any idea that their small family owned operation would become one of the longest standing black-owned hair care companies  when they were mixing products in their kitchen 43 years ago.

Story has it that while the husband and wife team were creating formulas, their two oldest children would help package the products at night. The rest, as they say, is history. Their oldest daughter, Ursula Dudley Oglesby, runs the North Carolina based company as President.  The pioneering couple were also featured in Chris Rock’s enlightening and enjoyable 1999 docu-tainment film,  Good Hair.

Fred Luster Sr. – Luster Products Inc.   

Back in the day...

When you think of Luster, you think of Luster’s Pink Oil Moisturizer, the ubiquitous hair lotion that was a staple of  bathroom cabinets in black households throughout the 80’s and 90’s.  The company behind the iconic brand was founded by the late Fred Luster Snr, in 1957 and is now headed by his children Jory Luster, Fred Luster II and Sonja Luster-Munis. The Chicago-based company is one of the largest black owned companies in the African-American hair care market.

Last year  the ‘Pink’ line of  haircare products was launched in  Boots.

Lisa Price – Carol’s Daughter

Lisa Price - Founder and President of Carol's Daughter

Lisa Price is an entrepreneur whose 15 year old venture was started by happenstance. The products were born through an experiment with fragrances and moisturisers, intended to be given as crafted gifts to friends and family. Price named the products after her mother, Carol Price.  As word of these homemade products quickly spread, Price was in business.  In 1999, she opened the doors to Carol’s Daughter’s first brick-and-mortar retail location in her native Brooklyn, NY.  Since then, the brand has matured forcefully with major media endorsements and high profile business partnerships –  investors include Jay-Z , Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.  Price’s home-grown experiment has grown into one of the most popular ethnic beauty brands in the world.

Loving the Skin you’re In

No ode to the black hair and beauty industry would be complete without a mention of the venerable cosmetics brand Fashion Fair.

38 years young - Fashion Fair Cosmetics

Fashion Fair  was created for women of colour by the late John H. Johnson, publisher of  the famous Ebony and Jet magazines.  As a pioneering businessman, Johnson took the risk that most major cosmetic companies refused to take by entering the untapped market of makeup for women with deeper skin tones.

Johnson ( and his wife Eunice W. Johnson) produced the Capsule Collection, a mail-order package in 1969.   Based on the overwhelming response, it was clear there was a demand for a Black cosmetics line.  

Fine by Name....Fine by Nature

Fashion Fair Cosmetics was born in 1973 .  Ten years after the company opened its first U.S. counter, the company expanded its global reach with the first European initiative in London. In conjunction with the Ebony Fashion Fair, Fashion Fair cosmetics took Great Britain by storm by hosting a signature luncheon highlighting an array of products and extravagant fashions from the show.  The brand recently appointed the (oh so fine!) celebrity make-up artist Sam Fine as its Creative Make-up Director.

Fashion Fair is available at Debenhams, House of Fraser, Morley’s of Brixton  and of course…. Boots.

So, what about us Brits?

It is SO exciting to see a number of  Black British entrepreneurs taking the beauty industry storm – such as:

Michael Boadi – Boadicea The Victorious and Illuminum fragrances

Boadicea The Victorious was launched in 2009 by British  former celebrity hairstylist Michael Boadi.  He previously styled the stars including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, before launching his first line of fragrances, Boadicea The Victorious  exclusively at Selfridges.

Stylist turned Perfumer - Micheal Boadi

The Illuminum brand followed in  2007 and shot to fame earlier this year when it was reported that the Duchess of Cambridge (yes Queen Kate!) wore one of his fragrances on her big day!  The Daily Mail and fragrance bloggers soon revealed that the bride wore White Gardenia Petals.  Every one of the 50ml bottles in stock was sold within moments of the news breaking, and an extensive waiting list accumulated  soon after.  Price – a very reasonable £70 for 50 ml

Fit for a Queen

Pat McGrath – Celebrity Make Up Artist

Changing faces – Pat McGrath

Hailing from Northampton,  Pat is one of the top make-up artists in the world.  She currently reigns supreme as the Global Cosmetics Creative Design Director for Procter and Gamble – the conglomerate behind some of the world’s most glamorous and powerful make up brand names- such as Max Factor, CoverGirl, SK-II and the more recently launched Dolce and Gabanna range.  Constantly in demand by top celebrities such as Madonna, Oprah and Scarlett Johansson, Pat McGrath’s editorial work with top photographers like Steven Meisel for Italian and American Vogue continually breaks new ground.

Daniel Vauud – the future of Fragrance creation

St Lucian born Daniel Vaudd is an inspirational young man.  A certified Cosmetic Scientist,  Daniel trained under evaluative perfumer John Ayres, the Director of the UK Fragrance Foundation, who taught him about the clarity and structure of perfume and how to refine his abilities.  Soon, he was asked to become the Global Colour Cosmetic Researcher for a major multinational, developing new and individual colours, as well as fragrances, for their cosmetic ranges.

Fragrance maestro - Daniel Vaudd

A chance encounter with the  world’s sole ‘ Professeur de parfum’, Roja Dove, led Dove to ask Daniel to be his personal researcher on the project ‘Essence of Perfume’ by Roja Dove. With his instincts and talents and his ever-broadening abilities and experience, Daniel soon began receiving requests to craft bespoke perfumes himself.

In 2010 Daniel launched his own line of fragrance – The House of Daniel Vaudd.

Just a few names of the movers and shakers  in the UK beauty industry… I am sure I will  be celebrating their talent for many  years to come.